(New York) David Zwirner is pleased to announce that Sherrie Levine has joined the New York gallery.
Sherrie Levine's work epitomizes many of the core tenets of postmodern art, incisively challenging notions of originality, authenticity, and identity. Since the late 1970s, she has created a singular and complex oeuvre using a variety of media, including photography, painting, and sculpture. Many of her works are explicitly appropriated from artworks within the modernist canon, while others are more general in their references, assimilating art historical interests and concerns rather than specific objects. Some of Levine's earliest work was included in Pictures, an important exhibition at Artists Space in New York in 1977 curated by Douglas Crimp that came to define The Pictures Generation—a group of artists examining the structures of signification underlying any image.
In 2011, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York presented MAYHEM, a major exhibition of Levine's work spanning three decades. The show included one of her most acclaimed series from 1981—a group of twenty-two photographs of reproductions of Walker Evans's photographs from his Farm Security Administration-commissioned project to document the rural South during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Referencing the loss of uniqueness as a result of mechanical (and digital) reproduction, and ironically using a medium generally held responsible for diminishing the value of the artist's hand, After Walker Evans: 1 – 22 emphasizes a description of the pictures in contextual, rather than formal terms.
Sherrie Levine: African Masks After Walker Evans, the artist's most recent series of photographs, is concurrently on view at Simon Lee Gallery in London (through July 25) and Jablonka Galerie in Cologne (through July 31).
Levine's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide, most recently at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2013); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (2010); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009 and 1991); and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2007). Other prominent venues which have held solo shows include Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (1998); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston (both 1995); Portikus, Frankfurt (1994); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1993); Kunsthalle Zürich (1991); High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (both 1988); and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (1987).
Major group exhibitions include Prima Materia, Punta della Dogana, François Pinault Foundation, Venice (2013); The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009); Whitney Biennial (2008, 1989, and 1985); SITE Santa Fe (2004); São Paulo Biennial (1998); Carnegie International (1988); Documenta 7 (1982); and Pictures, Artists Space, New York (1977).
Born in 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Levine studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she received her M.F.A. in 1973. The artist lives and works in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In addition to David Zwirner in New York, Sherrie Levine is represented by Jablonka Galerie in Cologne.
November 10, 2011 – January 29, 2012
Realized in collaboration with the artist, Mayhem surveyed 34 years of Levine’s work, from the late 1970s to 2011. The exhibition presented more than one hundred photographs, prints, paintings, and sculpture, including Levine's acclaimed series After Walker Evans: 1-22 (1981), in which the artist photographed reproductions of Evans's historic photographs documenting the Great Depression of the 1930s. Recent works cast in bronze, glass, and crystal were also included.
A fully illustrated monograph published by the Whitney Museum of American Art includes texts by the exhibition’s curators Johanna Burton and Elisabeth Sussman, writings by the artist, and essays by Thomas Crow, David Joselit, Maria H. Loh, Howard Singerman, and Carrie Springer. In their introduction to the publication, Burton and Sussman write, "As is the case with many artists of Levine’s generation who came of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s, her work is often discussed primarily in terms of . . . the questioning of traditional ideas of originality and authorship. Yet . . . this is only part of the story. Levine . . . has also succeeded in generating new meanings; indeed, her work functions to multiply images, objects, and things, but perhaps even more importantly, it sets them on new courses . . . Levine's work possesses a blend of criticality and generosity."
A four-star review of Mayhem in Time Out New York notes that "Thirty years on, Levine's art-historical critique still has bite … "
"The emotional resonance of The Pictures Generation has accrued over time, strengthened by its curious suitability to the present."—Gary Indiana, The New York Times T Magazine
In September 1977, Artists Space in New York opened a now-historic group exhibition titled Pictures. Curated by the critic Douglas Crimp, the exhibition featured work by Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Philip Smith. The exhibition has come to define The Pictures Generation—an influential group of artists whose work examines the ways in which images convey meaning.
"To an ever greater extent", Crimp wrote in the catalogue essay, "our experience is governed by pictures, pictures in newspapers and magazines, on television and in the cinema. Next to these pictures firsthand experience begins to retreat, to become more and more trivial. While it once seemed that pictures had the function of interpreting reality, it now seems that they have usurped it. It therefore becomes imperative to understand the picture itself . . . to determine how a picture becomes a signifying structure of its own accord."
Levine's work in the exhibition was the early series Sons and Lovers (1976–77), in which five silhouettes—including the profiles of former US presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and John F. Kennedy—are rendered on graph paper in fluorescent color and arranged in 35 different configurations. "There are, in all," Crimp writes, "five different 'characters': Washington, Lincoln, and John Kennedy, an unknown woman, and a couple. The president's silhouettes are familiar emblems from the faces of coins, while the bland couple and the 'other woman' are taken from wig advertisements. Each drawing pairs two of these silhouettes facing each other . . . The act of confrontation that is the only psychological relationship fully stated by the images is all that is required to establish a narrative."
Levine again used presidential profiles in the series Presidential Collages (1979). In her acclaimed series After Walker Evans: 1–22 (1981), the artist explicitly challenged notions of originality, authenticity, and identity by taking photographs of reproductions of Evans's photographs documenting the Great Depression of the 1930s.